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A Return to the Strange Town of...

Serenity: Season Two

A Weird Western Saga

by
Jason Chirevas
about the author

Previously, in "Serenity: season II"... A trio of demonic cows stormed the town, threatening all -- and the town was only saved by the arrival of Burton Scarborough -- a self-styled monster hunter who also claims to be little Lili's true father! Meanwhile, Elizabeth Byrnne seduces Deputy Richter...



Episode 7:  Whose Child?

MAYOR BRUBAKER, FIDDLING WITH HIS MONOCLE,gaveled the pulpit until everyone in the church fell silent. “This hearing will come to order. The town of Serenity will now hear arguments to determine rightful custody of the child known as Lili Clark.”

The assembled citizens murmured their preliminary opinions to each other. Brubaker gaveled them down. “The meeting will proceed as follows. Each party will make an opening statement, beginning with Miss Clark. The parties may call witnesses to support their claim to the child, Lili Clark, then we will have closing arguments.” The mayor pointed the gavel at the table of four people on his right. “The four-member panel will determine custody. They must achieve a majority vote, which will be final.” Brubaker pointed the gavel at the opposite tables set up in front of the pews. “Do I have any questions from the litigants?”

Raven Clark, hands folded on her table, drew a deep breath. “No, Mr. Mayor.”

At the other table, Burton Scarborough, Monster Hunter, reclined in his chair. “No questions.”

“Is the panel ready?”

At the table to Brubaker’s right, Reverend McCallum, Dr. Bullshank, Elsa Benjamin, and Marshal Boxer exchanged glances and nods. Boxer got halfway to his feet. “We’re ready, Mayor.”

“Very well.” Brubaker hoisted the gavel over his head.

“Let’s begin.”

+========+========+

“I want Auntie.”

Deputy Lake rolled his eyes. “I told you, she’s at a very important meeting for grown-ups. You’re sittin’ with me today.”

Lili’s eyes wandered the office. “Where’s the toy, then. I want the toy.”

Lake’s brow furrowed. “The toy? Oh. Marshal Boxer. He’s at the meeting, too.”

Lili slumped in her chair. “All I get is Mister Stu and the dandy killer.” (see Episode 5: "Duel Redux" ~ the ed.)

“Hey!” Tom Putnam looked up from his bunk in the holding cell. “I heard that!”

“So what if you did?” Lili wagged her tongue at the jailed shopkeeper.

Lake caught Lili’s attention with a pointed finger. “That’ll be enough of that, young lady. You be nice.”

The little girl resumed her slump, this time with arms crossed. “Don’t even get dumb, dirty Deputy Bump. Where is he? Huh? Huh? Where?”

Lake looked sidelong at Lili and sighed. “I have no idea. He was supposed to be here.”

+========+========+

Deputy Richter rolled over and threw an arm over Elizabeth Brynne’s bare middle. He maneuvered the rest of his nude body to line up behind her spine. “Wanna go again?”

Elizabeth rolled to her back; Richter’s arm left a trail of grime across her breasts. “No, dear. That won’t be necessary.”

Richter cocked his head. “Whattayoomean? ‘Necessary?’”

Elizabeth looked at the crust around Richter’s mouth and nostrils through the corner of her eye. She sighed. “Oh, all right. One more time.”

“Awlright.” Richter smiled a brown, decayed grin. He rolled on top of Elizabeth, but her palms on his chest stopped him cold. “But . . Deputy?”

“Yeah?”

His hot, fetid breath cascaded over her face. She glanced at his matted, sticky hair; the gray, filmy haze covering his entire body. Elizabeth gagged. “Before we do this, could you do something . . . about something?”

+========+========+

“And so, lady and gentlemen of the panel; Lili has lived with me for months. I feed her, I cloth her, I tuck her in at night, and I am the only one she fully trusts. I have come to grips with her obvious mental peculiarities and communicate with her well. Though I am not a blood relative, as Mr. Scarborough will no doubt remind you throughout these proceedings, I am the only family Lili has. I believe family is about a great deal more than blood. Thank you.”

Raven looked each panel member in the eye, one-by-one, and took her seat.

Across the aisle, Burton Scarborough gave Raven a nod and got to his feet.

“Lady and gentlemen of the panel.” He bowed to Elsa Benjamin. “My case is a simple one. I am the child’s father and, as such, am entitled to the full rights and privileges of her custody. I think everyone here is aware I could have taken the child out of this town by force, but I agreed to this hearing as a gesture of civility and preservation of the peace. I want it known; I bear no ill will toward Miss Clark. On the contrary, I thank her for taking care of my daughter while I journeyed here to find her. But Lili is my daughter, and so her rightful place . . . is with me. I thank you.”

Marshal Boxer stared after Scarborough as the hulking man returned to his seat. At the podium, Mayor Brubaker turned to Raven. “Have you any witnesses, Miss Clark?”

Raven stood. “Just one, Mr. Mayor. I call Burton Scarborough to the stand.”

A gasp went up from the assembled. The panel exchanged glances with each other and Brubaker. The mayor cleared his throat. “I’m not sure that’s appropriate, Miss Clark. Mr. Scarborough, you are not obligated to take the stand to your detriment. I grant you right of refusal.”

Raven glared at Scarborough. When he looked at her, she motioned to the witness chair. “You want her? Tell us why . . . Pa.”

Scarborough rolled his eyes and looked to the pulpit. “Mr. Mayor.”

Brubaker jabbed the gavel at Raven. “Miss Clark’s comments are out of order. The panel will disregard. Mister Scarborough, will you take the stand?”

The massive monster hunter stood and pulled his double-breasted military field jacket tight over his barrel chest. “I will.”

Another collective gasp. Scarborough strode past Raven, eased into the simple wooden witness chair, and raised his right hand. “Swear me in.”

Brubaker waved a dismissive gavel. “All parties to this proceeding are considered to be under oath for the duration. Proceed, Miss Clark.”

“Thank you, Mr. Mayor.” Raven cleared her throat, stepping toward Scarborough as she spoke. “Mr. Scarborough, your arrival in Serenity and subsequent parental claim to one of its citizens was a shock to us all, I’m sure you realize that.”

Scarborough, stone-faced, nodded. “I do.”

Raven turned to the pews. “I’m sure we can all agree, shock is something increasingly difficult to achieve in this town.” There were giggles and several Amens from the assembled. “However, I wonder if you would tell us how you traced the little girl you claim as your daughter to Serenity.”

Scarborough’s arms folded over his chest. “Be glad to.”

Raven acknowledged the snide demeanor with a smirk of her own. “Go right ahead. We’re listening.”

The massive monster hunter looked to the panel. “I received some information from a occasional associate of mine. I traveled to Serenity to check it out. It was accurate.”

Raven clasped her hands behind her back. “And what was the information you received? Exactly.”

“I was told my daughter currently resided in a town called Serenity, and it would be in everyone’s best interest if I came out here and got her.”

Raven’s brow furrowed. “Everyone’s best interest? What does that mean, Mr. Scarborough?”

The man’s broad chin pushed into the air. “I can’t say.”

“You don’t know, or you won’t say?”

Scarborough glared at Raven. “I can’t say.”

“Interesting.” Raven glanced at the panel. “I wonder if you’ll say who it was that gave you this information. Who is this occasional associate?”

Scarborough’s features softened as he turned to the panel. “It’s important to my work, and theirs, that my associates remain anonymous.”

Raven stepped around the witness chair, settling between Scarborough and the panel. “Safe to assume, then, these associates of yours are also in the business of hunting and destroying monsters?”

“One could say.”

Raven folded her arms. “Do you think that’s a healthy environment for a little girl to live in?”

“I think.” Scarborough mirrored Raven’s posture. “That, as her father, it’s for me to decide what’s best for Lili.”

“I see.” Raven scratched her head. “Mr. Scarborough, does the panel have anything other than your word as proof that you are, in fact, Lili’s father?”

Scarborough held Raven’s gaze, drawing a deep breath, then looked to the panel. “No.”

There were whispers from the spectators as a smile touched the corners of Raven’s mouth, but Scarborough wasn’t finished. “I have only my love. The love of a father who’s traveled a great distance to find the daughter he thought he’d lost forever.”

Raven waved a hand at Brubaker. “I’d like the panel to disregard that last comment, Mayor. It was unsolicited, unsubstantiated, and prejudicial.”

Brubaker looked up from the inscription on his gavel, eyes shifting from the witness chair, to Raven, to the panel. “Erm, yes. Panel will disregard the witness’s last statement.”

Raven rolled her eyes, then seethed at the smirk on Scarborough’s face. “I have nothing more for this witness.”

+========+========+

Muggs stuck his head into the marshal’s office. “You been called ta the stand, Stu.”

Deputy Lake shared a quizzical look with Lili. “What?”

+========+========+

“Deputy Lake, we’ve already heard from Mr. Johansson, who told us Miss Clark has allowed Lili in the presence of dead, decaying monsters. We’ve heard from Mr. Cobb, who told us Miss Clark has Lili living in the ruins of a newspaper office. And, we heard from Mr. Carruthers who, among many others, was on the street when Lili was kidnapped from Miss Clark’s custody by a renowned gunfighter.”

Raven stood up. “Mr. Mayor, is there a question in our future?”

Brubaker looked to Scarborough. “Your question for Deputy Lake, if you please, Mr. Scarborough.”

The monster hunter bowed to the podium. “My apologies.” He looked to the witness chair. “Deputy Lake, my question to you is this: When the monstrous cows, that is the monstrous cows I saved you from upon my arrival in Serenity (see last episode ~ the ed.), when the monstrous cows attacked, where was Miss Clark?”

Lake looked from Scarborough to Raven, then back again, and swallowed hard. “She was at the marshal’s office.”

“Was Lili with her?”

Another hard swallow. “No. She wasn’t.”

A gasp from the gallery. A smile from Scarborough. “Where was Lili at that time, Deputy?”

Lake sighed. “Raven left her alone in the Star office.”

Another gasp. A wider grin. “And, who was it that got Lili out of there? Who saved my daughter from the monster cows, Deputy?”

Lake glanced at Raven, lips pursed, then looked up at Scarborough. “I did.”

“No more questions.”

+========+========+

Elizabeth Brynne pried Deputy Richter’s hand from her breast and jostled him awake. “Time to do a favor for your new lady, Deputy.”

Richter’s eyes lolled open, their pupils a milky gray. “Whazzat?”

“Find Grady O’Halloran, and bring him to me.”

+========+========+

The gallery leaned forward. Raven Clark and Burton Scarborough stood at their respective tables. The panel remained seated. At the podium, Mayor Brubaker unfolded the piece of paper in his hand.

“Having deliberated justly and thoroughly on this matter, it is the decision of the panel, by a vote of three to one, the child currently known as Lili Clark . . .will be delivered to the custody of her father, Burton Scarborough, without delay.”

Raven dropped into her chair. Scarborough closed his eyes, head bowed. Brubaker gaveled over the murmurs of the spectators.

“These proceedings are concluded.”


Next - Episode 8: Questionable Conclusions

Previous - Episode 6: Surreal Stampede



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Serenity is copyright by Jason Chirevas. It may not be copied without permission of the author except for purposes of reviews. (Though you can print it out to read it, natch.)